March 9, 2006
As usual, the Blazers' defense contributed to the offense. UAB forced 26 turnovers, leading to 27 points. When the Mustangs made a small run early in the second half, it was UAB's defense that contributed to a 10-0 spurt that put the game out of reach.
"We had a lot more energy today than when we played SMU last time," UAB head coach Mike Anderson said. "Also, we were in a better rhythm this time. Playing on the road is always hard. We came and took our practice to the game and our pressure defense created some easy opportunities for us."
Four Blazers finished in double figures as UAB won its seventh straight and nine of 10. Paul Delaney and Marvett McDonald each added 11 for the Blazers.
UAB (23-5), which moved into the Top 25 this week after defeating No. 5 Memphis, will play the winner of Southern Mississippi-UTEP. SMU (13-16), which won its opening round game over Rice 61-59, has never defeated a ranked team in a conference tournament.
Bryan Hopkins led the 10th-seed Mustangs with 13 points, but was 5-of-15 from the field, while Devon Pearson had 10 points and a career-high 17 rebounds.
UAB's swarming defense caused problems from the start as SMU committed 17 turnovers in the first half. UAB took a 36-26 halftime lead. Richard Tobias and Delaney had eight points each for UAB, while Hopkins finally hit a pair of 3-pointers to keep the Mustangs within 10.
Kinnard made all six of his shots. UAB led by as many as 25.